Matt Drudge would be proud of the headline hovering today over Tim Hoover’s story on the battle being waged over three tax-slashing initiatives headed for the Colorado ballot this November. The story was tagged with this headline at the Denver Post: “Coalition plots campaign to defeat Colorado tax cuts.”
But there are no tax cuts. There are only Doug Bruce-backed anti-tax proposals— Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101– that are strongly opposed by the vast majority of lawmakers and politicians on all sides of the political spectrum.
“Just one of these initiatives would alter state government,” said Gov. Bill Ritter last December. “We’re talking about an estimated $1.2 billion drop in revenue after years already of cutting services. The amount the initiatives propose to cut would slice into our higher education budget by a factor of two. Something would have to simply go away.”
Defeated GOP candidate for governor Scott McInnis broke a long silence on the initiatives in the spring to agree with Ritter, saying that the “math simply doesn’t add up.”
The members of the official coalition created in opposition to the three initiatives, Coloradans for Responsible Reform, are all on record and have been open about the money they are giving to the cause. They are, as Hoover reports, “heavy hitters in the business community, nonprofit world and organized-labor sector.” The coalition has raised more than $4 million.
The other side has been less open by a long shot. Proponents of the measures were reportedly steered by Bruce, the controversial anti-government father of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Bruce likely authored the initiatives without putting his name on them and he appears to have paid petition circulators without disclosing the payments. He also seems to have tampered with witnesses called to testify about the initiatives in a campaign finance trial this spring.
At the end of July, the political issue committee that supports the initiatives, CO Tax Reform, reported only $12,000 in contributions, of which the conservative Hasan family donated $10,000. Ali Hasan contributed $5,000 and his mother, Seeme Hasan, contributed $5,000.
“[Doug Bruce] is one of the finest conservatives since Ronald Reagan,” Ali Hasan told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I love him like a family member and he loves me very much.”
Opposing the initiatives, as Hoover reports, there are plenty of state employee unions but there are also bond dealers, bankers, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Business Partnership. Those businesses and business leaders aren’t looking to “defeat tax cuts.” They’re looking to “maintain the status quo,” they told Hoover, which means paying already low taxes to support basic public services essential to thriving business, services that include roads and schools and police and fire protection.
Kate Horle, spokeswoman for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the businesses she represents were frustrated at having to help beat back the anti-tax initiatives but they clearly found the fight essential.
“Would we rather be spending half a million dollars on boosting Colorado’s economy? Absolutely,” she said. “You can employ people for that. You can give people raises for that. It’s unfortunate.”
Suggested alternative headlines for Hoover’s story: “Business leaders join coalition to defeat tax-slashing ballot initiatives.” Or: “Business leaders say proposed anti-tax initiatives have already cost Colorado jobs.”